Communication Practices Hearing Loss Speechreading/Lipreading

Lipreading Concepts with Hearing Loss LIVE!

Why Lipreading Concepts Before Lip Shapes?

Julia: There is a misconception that if you lose hearing you automatically read lips. Without knowing the concepts before you try to learn and understand the lip shapes makes for a tired student. Once the concepts are understood, students can learn lip shapes in a more relaxed atmosphere.

Chelle: While teaching lipreading with the state of Utah, we had 18 lessons. Each lesson was an hour and a half. Lip shapes and concepts were spread throughout each lesson. By lesson 4, I noticed a few people weren’t returning to class as it was overwhelming. In designing a new class with Hearing Loss LIVE!, we thought it would be more helpful to set people up with the concepts first so they are more confident later for lip shapes. 

Michele: As a lifelong lipreader, I know that when you are not confident in a situation your lipreading skills fly out the window. Keeping your composure is key. Obsessing about what you are NOT getting causes panic and works against you. Learning all of the moving parts of lipreading builds confidence, and so it makes sense to start Hearing Loss LIVE! lipreading classes with instruction and information about those concepts.

Lipreading Experience

Michele: When I was diagnosed with hearing loss in grade school, the doctor told my mother I was lipreading everything he said. I likely had had a hearing loss years before. I had no clue I was doing it, though the concept wasn’t completely foreign to me, as my grandmother was deaf and a lipreader. I’ve been lipreading for well over five decades, and the very first article that I wrote for publication was about lipreading. It is so much a part of who I am and how I communicate.

I have consulted on a few lipreading projects, transcribing a surveillance video for a law firm, and silent news footage for a documentary film. I did extensive research to prepare for both projects, but it was knowing the context and using all of the other fundamentals of lipreading that helped me make sense of what I saw on speakers’ lips while viewing the footage.

Julia: I have been involved off and on as a CART provider for Lipreading classes since 2010, both in Utah and California. As a Hard of Hearing Assistant for the State of Utah, I taught Lipreading classes online for a year. 

Chelle: I’m Hard of Hearing so I’ve been lipreading for years without knowing it. In 2013 or 2014, I started teaching the Speechreading class at the state Deaf and Hard of Hearing Center. I revised the class three times over the years, gaining experience while teaching… saving what worked and getting rid of what didn’t work. Example: Single syllable practice words destroyed the confidence of all us beginners. I changed the words to 2 or more syllables giving us more to go on. I also tried to pick common words we see daily. 

Lipreading Class experience online

Chelle: The pandemic hit and the HoH assistants were asking what they would do without in person classes. I had been wanting to try hybrid presentations to be more inclusive of people all over the state, not just certain locations. With the pandemic, I took a deep breath and within a month started the HoH program classes online. There was trial and error and thinking ahead about technology glitches so we had a teacher and backup person in case someone’s internet went down. It worked with a few jerks and bumps, which we smoothed out within a month. We found out lipreading classes are even better online than in person, because each person sits fairly close to the camera. In person we sat farther apart making it hard at times. 

Michele: Losing my hearing at such a young age hardwired me for lipreading. I am aware of how it works, but the nuances and technical aspects of articulation were new to me. When Utah opened up their online lipreading classes, I signed up for two separate classes. Being online worked great, as you could pin a speaker to view them close-up during practice. Once in a while someone’s screen would freeze, but there were no major glitches. I’ve heard many others with hearing loss over the years express an interest in learning to lipread or improve their skills, and having online classes really makes that possible no matter where you live.

Julia: My experience with lipreading in person wasn’t as a teacher but when we went online at the beginning of the pandemic, I found online was a much better platform for lipreading classes. You have the ability to turn the sound completely off but not your voice. In-person classes involve a lot of whispering. This may actually change the way you enunciate or move your mouth. 

Why I Love This Class

Julia: I learn so much from these types of classes that as a hearing person I didn’t understand before. It helps me to be better with my communication to someone with a hearing loss, because I know what may or may not come across when they are trying to lipread.

Michele: The best thing about the class was the people who attended. Getting to know one another, the camaraderie that developed, the humor, talking about our experiences, and learning from each other. We had some really awesome class discussions and came up with some improvements to the class together. I think we all gained a lot of confidence together.

An added benefit was becoming comfortable with video conferencing platforms with closed captions. I’ll be honest, I was nervous for the first few weeks. As much about Google Meet as the class. My hearing loss is profound, which means I hear no audio at all on the computer, so I was nervous about interrupting and contributing in class. It didn’t take long to become comfortable with both the class and Google Meet. The lipreading classes were actually my saving grace in those first months of Covid isolation. I am so thankful Utah opened up their online classes to other states.

Chelle: The Speechreading class gave me confidence. I learned a better way to communicate with people and became less fearful of social interaction. I found I had the added benefit of hearing better in noisy environments. Example: I cannot handle wearing my hearing aids at restaurants. The excess noise distracts me. (How do hearing people handle all that noise?!) Also, I’m not easily rattled anymore and can handle most communication situations that come up. I learned when it might be my fault for not understanding AND when it’s the speaker’s fault. 

Class Information

What: Live, in person Lipreading Concepts Class; 8 Lessons, Online with Google Meet
When: Thursday, February 17, 2022 through April 7, 2022
Time: 6:00 – 7:00 PM, Mountain Time
Cost: $50 per person ($6.25 per lesson)
Limit: 10 people per class
Registration: Opens January 28, 2022

Attend our February 1, 2022 Talk About It Tuesday to learn more about the class.

Talk About It Tuesday is free to attend, we provide CART/live captioning. Register 

Michele and Chelle Explorations Lipreading in Years Past

Advocacy Speechreading/Lipreading

SHANNA GROVES: Lipreading Mom

Author and Hearing Loss Advocate Shanna Groves, Lipreading Mom, is our guest on this week’s Hearing Loss LIVE! podcast.

Michele first heard about Shanna in 2009 when a fellow SayWhatClub subscriber shared an HLAA (Hearing Loss Association of America) call for submissions for hearing loss stories for a project Shanna was working on for them. Then, in 2012 Michele crossed paths with Shanna on the CCAC captioning forum.

Chelle became aware of Shanna in 2013 through volunteering for the SayWhatClub Social Media Team. She also participated in Shanna’s Show Me Your Ears campaign with her favorite translucent red hearing aids.

Both Chelle and Michele had an interest in lipreading and advocacy and shared Shanna’s blog articles on the SayWhatClub Facebook page. Shanna’s Stop Hearing Loss Bullying campaign is also notable for addressing bullying and the long range effects it has on self esteem. 

Professional Bio

Shanna Groves is the author of two books about hearing loss, Confessions of a Lip Reading Mom and Lip Reader. Since 2013, she has taught lip reading/speech-reading classes in the Kansas City area. Shanna holds a Masters in Special Education and Bachelors in Communication. She has written about her own progressive hearing loss on the blog

What is

Shanna: Ten years ago, I began to write about my experiences as a hard of hearing parent through the Lipreading Mom blog. Posts emphasize hearing loss awareness, living with deafness, advocacy, and parenting. 

I also include information about the following:


My first book, Lip Reader, is a work of fiction that was inspired by deaf and hard of hearing family members. Here is the book synopsis:

Lip Reader features a colorful cast of characters—an unkempt uncle living in a school bus; a grandfather who preaches in a rundown church; a grandmother born deaf; an aunt fluent in sign language but lacking in social graces; and Sapphie, who finds courage and hope despite mother Rea’s unthinkable act of betrayal.

My second book, Confessions of a Lip Reading Mom, is about the early years of living with my hearing loss diagnosis as a young mom. Here is a synopsis:

Confessions of a Lip Reading Mom explores the roller coaster ride of my progressive hearing loss, which was diagnosed two months after the birth of my first child. I was 27. Three healthy kids later, the hearing loss accelerated. Sounds once taken for granted – the doorbell, smoke alarms, baby cries – were now quiet. In the midst of imminent and unexplained deafness, I describe the initial struggle to accept hearing loss and finding grace along the way.

Lipreading Resources

Sounds to Lip Read and Why Reading Lips Is So Hard are two good blog posts about the lip reading classes I teach. In my classes, we work on learning the categories of speech sounds based on how sound appears on the face: lip biters (/f/ and /v/), lip pressers (/p/, /b/, and /m/), lip puckers (/o/, /oo/, /w/, and /wh/), jaw droppers (/a/ and /ah/), teeth clenchers (/sh/ and /ch/), and tongue (/l/ and /th/). Thirty to forty percent of speech is visible on the face, and that is why lip reading can be difficult without some access to sound through natural hearing and/or hearing amplification. 


Show Me Your Ears and Stop Hearing Loss Bullying are two campaigns to increase awareness about hearing loss, deafness, communication access, assistive technology, and allying with the deaf/hearing loss communities.

Show Me Your Ears is a photo campaign of people’s ears, hearing aids and cochlear implants, with submissions by readers from around the world. My favorite “Show Me Your Ears” photo (right) came from a dad, who received a tattoo for a cochlear implant to match his daughter’s C.I. The photo went viral when it was submitted on social media, and I was able to interview the dad about his experience.

Stop Hearing Loss Bullying is a video produced with a group of volunteers to raise awareness about discrimination and trauma experiences related to hearing loss, and ways to promote inclusion.

View our companion podcast.

Shanna shared her visit with us on her blog.